Creating Valuable Guest Connections Using Great Experiences

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In this Boostly Podcast, host Liam discusses short-term rentals with Alex DeCamp, a Detroit-based host managing 30 listings. 

Emphasizing guest value, Alex blends multi-family properties into mini-hotels, collaborating with local businesses for exclusive perks. 

The conversation touches on tech-driven operations using Enso Connect and Host Co for curated guidebooks. Alex envisions a future where technology streamlines guest interactions and promotes local businesses, fostering a sense of community in short-term rentals.

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[00:00:00] Liam: Creating value by causing great connections and great experience with your guests is what we're going to be talking tonight about on the boost podcast, and we're going to be doing that with a successful short-term rental host who, uh, we're going to ask questions of his business. We're going to find out his story and generally, just all the tips that you as a host can learn from.

[00:00:20] Tonight. So welcome to the Boosty podcast. If you've not listened to this before, this is the podcast that gives hosts, the tools, the tactics, the training, and most importantly, the confidence. So you can go out there and get more direct. My name is Liam Carolan. I'm Mark Simpson's co-host. And today we're going behind the host with Alex DeCamp.

[00:00:38] And he's got an awesome short-term rental company. Um, it's based in around Detroit and the USA, and he's got around 30 listings, uh, which you can go and check out his company's called Great Stay, which you can go and check out right now, great stay. co and, uh, you can go and check out his awesome website and, um, go and see out, see a little bit more about his business, but first let's find out how he is creating, uh, The connections with locals and how it's adding value to his guests who come and stay with us.

[00:01:07] So welcome along Alex. Thank you for joining us.

[00:01:11] Alex: Hey Liam, thanks for having me here. I'm a big fan of Boostly and the podcast, and it's great to be here.

[00:01:16] Liam: Well, it's awesome to have you on, and I know we've known each other from some of the trainings in the past and from Boostly websites and stuff like that, so it's great to have you on and get a chance to finally do this.

A bit about Alex and Great Stays

[00:01:27] So, for everybody listening, can you just give an introduction to your business and introduce yourself?

[00:01:34] Alex: Yeah. Yeah. Uh, so Alex, the camp, I'm here in Detroit, Michigan have roughly, well, I have 26 properties right now and I'm on board another five. So right around that 30, um, unit count that you're talking about and I've been in real estate for a while and over time we had folks that would rent from us and they operated our properties of short-term rentals, and I kind of caught the bug, and I tested one out one of my buildings, and I fell in love with it travelled out to London for a conference and after I saw the technology that was coming along and the excitement that was in this community.

[00:02:11] I just, fell in love, and I've been growing my business ever since I had a corporate position. With a bank, I did a lot of great community development endeavours, worked on lending programs, um, nonprofit, uh, uh, relationships and whatnot. And, uh, at the, there was a time where it made sense for me to kind of leave that position and, and I've been growing my company, uh, ever since.

What sort of model do you use?

[00:02:33] Liam: You mentioned that you've done it in a couple of your buildings and that's how you got started. What sort of model do you use? Is this, are this one that you own or do you do any, um, rental arbitrage or management? What sort of models do you, do you use?

[00:02:45] Alex: Um, everything I have is either I own it or I co-host so I will manage for other folks, or, you know, buildings that I own.

[00:02:54] If it's buildings that I own it's multi-family so for example, in one of our apartment buildings which is three buildings we've converted one of the buildings. Seven units into basically a little mini hotel, another building and In a nice part of town, we have six units and my business partner, he's operating, or he's opening a, uh, cafe underneath, uh, in the, in the garden level unit.

[00:03:15] So we're excited to have that, you know, that, that amenity there for the guests.

[00:03:19] Liam: What did you do before all of this, um, before you got into hospitality? You mentioned you already in real estate, but, um, is that how far back is this?

[00:03:28] Alex: Oh, wow. So, uh, you know, I studied, I studied at, uh, uh, have a, uh, degree in urban planning, real estate development.

[00:03:37] I've been, like I was mentioning, I was with the bank for a long time, um, and after I, uh, uh, after I got my graduate degree, I was like, I want to be in the city of Detroit. I have a family history here. I, I, I, there are so many things to love about this city. And, um, if you've never been here, I highly recommend visiting.

[00:03:53] It's, it's, uh, I think I mentioned to you earlier, you know, I was, I was with some travel writers last night and they were just amazed at the city. It's, it's, it wasn't what they were expecting. It was all the first time here. But, um, so I came to the city and I worked on lending programs. My background is lending with financial institutions and uh, I, I had an amazing position where I was working with a growing bank and we worked on, um, you know, lending programs, investment programs.

[00:04:20] Uh, just basically we worked with all the groups in the city who were working to, to, um, improve the infrastructure, improve the amenities. And, you know, we, we, we kind of did that, but my, my The people that ran the bank I was close with and they also knew that I like to develop so it was great. They gave me freedom and I acquired property and I developed property.

[00:04:42] We have some mixed-use buildings where we have restaurants and bars and other retail businesses with apartments above. And that's where you know some folks started renting from us

[00:04:56] and they, they like the fact that we built walkable. You know, we had walkable buildings where folks wanted to visit. And then from there, that's kind of where this idea grew.

How’s it working with local businesses?

[00:05:05] Liam: When it comes down to these local businesses, talk me through how it's working at the moment and what you're doing, uh, which is pretty special for, uh, great stays.

[00:05:16] Alex: Yes. Yeah. So, um, one of the advantages, uh, I was very lucky when I was at the bank that I got to work with a lot of small businesses. Um, and when I, you know, I mentioned, I talked, I worked on community projects, but these small businesses, so many folks that want, they had an idea, uh, and needed lending.

[00:05:32] I, um, I was always the guy who was like, yeah, why not? And, you know, it's, it's always easy when somebody else's money. Right. But, um, uh, and I worked with a lot of these small businesses and. Over time, just got to know him. And I would say, you know, acquaintances, friends, um, and since then, now that I have this business, you know, I basically, I know how difficult it can be for small businesses to get, to get, uh, uh, customers.

[00:05:58] And, you know, they're, when somebody's in town when somebody's visiting in town, they're, they don't know about some of these great places. They'll know about the things that are kind of, you know, maybe down, you know, downtown or whatnot, but they don't know that, um, they don't always know. At least the places I appreciate.

[00:06:15] So what we do is we work with local businesses to kind of showcase them. Um, uh, like for example, there's been a couple of gyms that we've worked with who will offer, you know, our guests stay for maybe four days or maybe two weeks, but they don't necessarily want to buy a month membership for a gym. So these gyms will offer them a week's membership.

[00:06:34] And the gym loves it because obviously, they're getting business that they want to have. And then the guests love it because they can, you know, they can now work out. It's just like they do, um, uh, at home. And what's great about going back to the, the, the avatar, you know, our, our avatar is a person that appreciates that they appreciate the amenities.

[00:06:51] They, they, they want to be able to be comfortable where they're at. Uh, the same thing with the local restaurants, you know, there are local restaurants that, and people ask this all the time. I mean, all hosts get asked these questions, but, The thing that we are, uh, can provide with some restaurants and hopefully, this grows our discounts, you know, what can we do to give them, um, why don't you go to this coffee shop?

[00:07:13] You'll get a free cup of coffee. Uh, now that works for them, we have, we're above two cafes and both cafes. Uh, I'm sorry, we have two locations above two separate, uh, cafes and both of those cafes have agreed to, you know, um. Uh, to work with us, uh, discounted coffee, uh, whatnot, places to hang out. And actually, it helps for like, uh, uh, when they have to wait for the, you know, to come to the room and whatnot, but, um, uh, so those partnerships.

[00:07:42] are what we're, what we're developing. And it's great for a couple of reasons. You know, first, it enhances the guest experience. They can come in, they see these recommendations. And not only that, they might, you know, they might get a discount for going there. Um, and then on top of that, you know, helps us the small business.

[00:07:58] We talked about that. The small businesses, it's tough enough. And so if they can get more people to come in, you know, it helps. And then also it's You know, we all know that regulatory, there can be, you know, regulatory restrictions on short-term rentals. And, um, I've, I've worked with like, uh, local city council and other, you know, uh, uh, policymakers before, and this can showcase, like, look at, we're, we're not just, you know, trying to, we're not just hosting these folks to make money for ourselves.

[00:08:29] Like we're trying to impact and invest in the small business community and, and, as you said, build our ecosystem. I mean, you know, we work with local cleaners. We work with local, um, uh, folks with, uh, the gig economy for Instacart and whatnot, you know, there's, there's one side of it, but then also the guests here, we have this captured captive audience and they're looking to eat.

[00:08:52] They're looking to work out, you know, they're looking to be entertained.

How do you showcase these perks?

[00:08:54] Liam: What I'd love to know is how do you showcase these? How do you inform guests of these perks? Like what, what is the, um, what is the way that they'd find out about some of these, these awesome things that you do?

[00:09:05] Alex: So that's all tech it's, you know, my, I dream that, that I will, um, Get to the, uh, get to the point where I can have a couple hours of uninterrupted work time every morning.

[00:09:18] And the dream is just to wake up earlier and do it. But, um, and, and so I can work on the tech and the tech, uh, we work with, uh, one software called Enso Connect. And so Connect has guidebooks. We have links in there where we talk about, you know, uh, uh, uh, everything. Uh, there's also host co, which will work with Enso Connect.

[00:09:38] We're figuring that one out as well. And then, um, my, my kind of, uh, on the ground ops manager, he, he is, uh, He comes from hospitality. He's a general manager of a restaurant. You know, between him and myself, we're we just tell people everywhere to go and work with them all the time. They see us a lot.

[00:10:00] Obviously, that's difficult to scale, but it's really what we want to do is be able to, um Have our team say I have some virtual assistants that we work with and just to be able to use the tech that we have and then uh Get to the guests

[00:10:14] Liam: having a blast gonna get it on the Boostly podcast Boostly like Bruce Lee because it's so hard and the t is loosely making up those rhymes.

[00:10:22] Don't write it. Just do it loosely